So yesterday we had new fiction books of the year, tomorrow I have new non-fiction for you, but today we have my favourite not new books of the year.
Lets start with the newest – and it’s Greg Jenner’s Ask a Historian, which is out now in paperback and answers all sorts of questions that he’s been asked over his years as a public historian. He also has a new book for kids this year called You Are History, which I haven’t read yet but sounds like it’s a middle grade cross between Ask a Historian and his A Million Years in a Day. Anyway, Greg’s writing style is as much fun as he is in his podcasts, and Ask a Historian is a great book for reading in little bits when you get a chance, if you’re trying to get more reading done for example, because the question and answer format makes it easy to pick up and put down.
Moving on to some fiction, and I found it really hard to pick my favourite of the Persephone books I read as part of my gift subscription last Christmas, so I’ve ended up including a few of them here. Jocelyn Playfair’s A House in the Country was written during the war and deals with wartime life at a big country house. If you like books like The Cazalet Chronicles or Dorothy Whipple, then this maybe one for you to read. Then there’s The Young Pretenders by Henrietta Fowler about two young children who move to live with their aunt and uncle while they wait for their parents to return from India. I feel like if you’re the sort of person who liked Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes when you were younger, then this might be a book for you.
I’ve read a lot of classic crime this year – as all the British Library Crime Classics posts I’ve done demonstrate – but it’s been hard to pick favourites. So I’ve gone with a couple that were Books of the Week – Green for Danger by Christianna Brand, the creepy war time murder mystery in a hospital; Fire in the Thatch by E C R Lorac, about an arson attack; John Dickson Carr’s Til Death Do Us Part, with an impossible locked room mystery and Lois Austen-Leigh’s The Incredible Crime about a a murder and a drug gang in Cambridge.
This is already a long list, but two more before I go – for kids, Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais about three girls’ cross country cycle trip in France, and a romance: Jackie Lau’s Donut Fall In Love which features a Hollywood movie star and a baker falling in love and taking part in a baking show. Not necessarily in that order!